Sotto: Senate probe into vigilante killings might be premature
Senate Majority Leader Vicente “Tito” Sotto III on Tuesday said it might be difficult for the upcoming Senate investigation on the spate of drug-related extrajudicial killings in the country to prosper and produce substantial results.
Sotto said the progress of the probe, which was sought by justice and human rights committee chair Sen. Leila de Lima, would be a “tough” one due to the number of cases involved.
“Ang tingin ko may kahirapan. Because how many extrajudicial killings happened? 200, 300? 500 plus kasama ‘yung sa pulis dun eh. Nasabi naman ng pulis na may mga dahilan. Madaling mag-imbestiga sa Senado ‘pag may specific ka na kasong pinag-uusapan. Pero pag 200 plus, anong sasabihin sa amin ng pulis? ‘Iniimbestigahan pa namin,’ sasabihin nila. Alin dito sa mga kasong ito? Medyo may kahirapan eh,” Sotto said in an INQ&A interview on Tuesday night.
“My sense really was, before, baka premature tayo. We must probably allow muna Napolcom (National Police Commission), NBI (National Bureau of Investigation), DOJ (Department of Justice) to investigate and find out what’s happening here, who are responsible, just so they can have something to report to us,” he added.
As of Aug. 8, the Inquirer’s “Kill List” notes 564 drug-related deaths since June 30 or after President Rodrigo Duterte was sworn in. The Philippine National Police said 513 drug personalities were killed while 7,325 were arrested as of Aug. 9.
De Lima, who blasted the Duterte administration’s “do-it-yourself justice system,” previously said the Senate inquiry which will start this August will focus on “specific cases of suspected summary execution.” The senator, however, noted that a “handful” of her colleagues had expressed reservations about the impending investigation.
Sotto said the Senate probe would move forward only if it would center on specific cases of vigilante executions and not just a “general” view of extrajudicial killings.
“Kapag mag-center ‘yung hearings sa specific cases, may pupuntahan. Pero kung general lang, basta ganung extrajudicial killings lang, mahirap ang pupuntahan niyan … Ang debate diyan would be human rights. When you debate against human rights, mahirap ‘yan, kasi when does human rights end? Does it ever end?” he said.
Sotto also lauded the enforcement side of the administration’s relentless war against the “complex” drug menace in the country, but noted that prosecution of cases should be maintained and not left behind.
“What is happening now is very good for the fight against illegal drugs, and I’ve mentioned this to the President also. It’s not all enforcement and it’s not all prosecution … It’s the only crime wherein the criminal is a victim and the victim is a criminal. Ibang klase to eh. Ang rapist alam mo kung sino ang nangrape eh. Pero ang tumitira ng illegal drugs, you’re committing a crime but you are victim,” he added.
Sotto called for a “balanced” approach toward drug-related enforcement, as he expressed alarm over innocent lives involved in the killings.
“Kailangan talaga hanapin natin ‘yung balanse dito eh. Oo hindi natin gusto ‘yung extrajudicial killings pero karamihan sa mga kababayan natin nakikita na ‘yung mga tunay na drug pushers, namemerwisyo ng mga ano, at kapag sila ay nanlaban sa pulis at napatay, talagang ganoon,” he said.
INQ&A, broadcast live every Tuesday, 8 to 9 p.m, via Radyo Inquirer 990AM, INQ 990 Television (Digital Terrestrial Television), and INQUIRER.net’s Facebook and Youtube accounts, is a weekly talk show that aims to deliver insightful interviews with the country’s leading newsmakers.
Inquirer 990 TV can be viewed through ABS-CBN’s TV Plus, RCA and Godan digital TV boxes.
(This story was originally published on Aug. 9 at 9:21 p.m.)
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